Here are some very important things you should know about me. I usually wear all black. Although, I like to wear white in the summer. If I am feelings ballsy, I’ll wear grey or brown. I swear, a lot. For a while I thought this was something I should work on but then I decided f*** it. I have an unparalleled obsession with dark chocolate and sunshine.
For the majority of my life I have suffered with mental illness. The kind that brings you to your knees, the kind where you can’t hold a job or attend school, complete even the simplest of task, and the kind of mental illness where you shut everyone out of your life because you believe you don’t deserve anyone or anything.
Here are just some of the diagnoses and labels I have been hit with throughout my life: Attention deficit disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder, anxious, and depressive. At some point I had to let go of all the diagnoses and get to the root of things. In my case, trauma. I am not saying there is not value in a clinical diagnoses because I do believe there is. I want to be clear there is also value in medication, various types of therapy, inpatient treatment, or whatever best fits your current situation. I have used many of these resources myself. I also quickly realized once I was stable enough I had to figure out a way to dig myself out of the neck deep pile of shit, aka trauma, I had been walking in for nearly twenty three years.
The first thing I had to tackle were my various addictions to alcohol, sex, and love. How can I put this . . . addressing all of this sucked. And by suck, I just mean it has been harder than I ever imagined. There was no pink cloud experience, only an uphill battle. Imagine climbing Mount Everest and every time you reach a basecamp you fall back down and have to redo the climb. And unless you ask me when I have a case of the fuck its, I wouldn’t trade the climb for a god damn thing.
Doing the work has been a constant for me because it has to be. And even though doing the work to remain sober, chip away at trauma, and just be a human is often heinous, I highly recommend it. I should also point out that I believe taking breaks is equally important. My other constant? Yoga.
The first time I did yoga was ten years ago. I’m not sure why because now I find it to be a real life hell chamber but I chose Bikram yoga. I stuck with this style for a while until it no longer worked for my body or mind. Following this, I did only restorative yoga for a long time. My body was stuck in the flight, fight, or freeze cycle and was desperately calling for help.
Today my yoga practice is strength based because that’s what my body and mind call for. But no matter what style of yoga I am practicing, my practice is always breath based. If I stop breathing or can no longer hear or feel my breath, I stop moving and reconnect to my breath. A practice which continually proves to be invaluable in navigating mental illness and sobriety in my daily life.
My point is this, yoga for me is always changing. It depends on what my body needs at that stage of life or on that day. And you know what else I realized? This is absolutely fucking okay. For a long time I thought if I did yoga I had to look, act, or be a certain way. False. If anything, yoga brings you back to the deepest you, not the you who you think you should be.
If you want to sit on your yoga mat and eat pork rinds, amen. If you want to practice handstands for six hours, halleluiah. If you want to keep it restorative, respect. My point is, make your yoga mat your bitch. Tell it what you need. It always listens, supports you unconditionally, and shows you what you need to know. And of course, if you are struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, or both, don’t let shame or stigma keep you stuck. Don’t give up. No matter what. Write it on your wall, mirror, or forehead if you must. Say it out loud to yourself until you believe it.